Furor in Frognot
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The sign in front of Coy Walton’s house, warning that a convicted child sex offender resides within, has divided the citizenry of tiny Frognot in northwest Collin County.
A judge ordered that the big metal sign be posted last January when Walton, a former policeman, was released on probation after serving time for exposing himself to a local boy.
Then the law of unintended consequences kicked in.
Some residents of the unincorporated hamlet, including Walton’s neighbor, Rebecca Hogue, fear that the stark warning has scared off”potential home buyers, thus depressing property values.
“Whenever friends or family come by, there it is,” says Hogue. “It’s a big negative.”
Hogue, whose own house on 12 acres is for sale, has joined with 47 other residents to endorse a petition, circulated by Walton’s wife, Laurie, that the sign be removed.
However, another Frognot faction, including the victim’s mother, has collected 157 signatures on a counter-petition in support of keeping the sign in place.
Actually, the original sign already has been removed once, and then replaced, after someone put a bullet through it. Then some weeks ago it disappeared, briefly, only to turn up in front of the local high school, where Laurie Walton teaches science.
“They’ve also had their mailbox knocked down and nails put in their driveway,” says Coy Walton’s attorney, Charles Caperton, whose client has declined to discuss the issue.
State District Judge Robert Dry, who inherited the case, has held a hearing and promises to conduct a review. One option Judge Dry may consider: Keep the sign in place until Walton successfully completes court-ordered therapy-possibly another two or three years.
No matter how Dry decides, however, Frognot seems destined to grapple with its sex-offender problem for some time to come. It recently came to light that a second man, also convicted of child sexual abuse, lives just down the road from Walton but has no warning signed posted in front of his house. And a third resident, who signed his name to Laurie Walton’s petition, recently was indicted for sexually abusing a child.
HARD WORK PAYS OFF FOR THE YOUNG SCHOLARS AT TAG
Thirty-five of the 38 graduating seniors at Dallas’ Talented and Gifted magnet school received $4,360,505 in scholarship offers this spring, by far the highest total in the district, at the school with the second-smallest number of graduates.
“I’ve been very impressed,” says first-year principal F. Michael Satarino, who came to TAG after serving for 13 years as principal at the private Bishop Dunn School, “i really find no difference between our kids and honor students in private schools. They’re bright. They come to school early and they stay late.” And make their parents very proud.
Dean of the Dunes
SMU professor digs up a major discovery.
Each year for nearly four decades, Fred Wendorf has been visiting a harsh land of lizards and sand, the remote Sahara of southwestern Egypt, where the SMU archaeologist and his colleagues recently unearthed what may be the world’s oldest astronomical structure, a massive arrangement of giant stones that dates from 5,000 B.C. or earlier.
The mysterious site, a dry lake bed called Nabta Playa, antedates Stonehenge in England by almost two millennia.
Wendorf’s discovery made headlines in The New York Times and elsewhere a-round the world this spring, a rare distinction for most people but nothing extraordinary to the soft-spoken scientist, for whom exceptional experiences are more or less commonplace.
Wendorf, who traces his passion for archaeology to the arrowheads he found as a child in the cotton fields near his native Terrell, entered the University of Arizona in 1940 at age 15; published the first of his 30 scholarly books in 1948; wrote his 1953 Harvard doctoral disserta-tion on a dig he led in Arizona’s Petrified Forest; and teamed in West Texas with his good friend, the famed geologist Claude Albritton, to excavate and describe the remains of Midland Minnie. At least 10.000 years of age. Minnie is the oldest human ever found in North America.
Wendorf lives with his third wife and former student, Christy Bednar-head of development at The Hockaday School-in their restored Victorian house in Lancaster.
He began visiting Egypt in 1962, two years before he came to SMU. where he founded the anthropology department.
In January, the start of each year’s 10-week excavation season at Nab-ta Playa, heavy overcoats and facial protection are necessary against the desert cold. By March, daytime highs can reach 115 degrees. Water-everyone gets three liters a day-must be trucked in from more than 100 miles away.
“When I first went out there, I felt very alien to it, and uncomfortable,” Wendorf says. “But I’ve really gotten to love the isolation. It is really eerily beautiful. The stars are so gorgeous at night. You can focus. You don’t have anything else on your mind.”
LOCAL MEDIA HEAVYWEIGHTS PLAGE THEIR POLITICAL BETS
How three moguls divvy the cash right and left
Robert Decherd, who runs A. H. Belo Corp., publisher of The Dallas Morning News, favors Democrats by more than two to one. Jeffrey Marcus, the cable baron and new chief at Chancellor Media, is oppositely enthusiastic about GOP candidates. So Is Tom Hicks of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, the buyout firm. Federal Election Commission campaign contribution reports for the years 1992 to 1998 reflect Decherd’s choices as an individual donor. The sums for Marcus and Hicks include so-called “soft” money from their companies’ political action committees, plus contributions made by their wives.
Death of Silk Stocking Row
When horses gave way to horsepower, a Dallas district was doomed.
From the mid-I880s until after World War I, Ross Avenue was Dallas’ most fashionable address. Before the advent of the automobile, the street was lined every Sunday afternoon with spiffy carriages attended by pompous coachmen.
Grand abodes like the home of lumber dealer John C. Conway at the northwest corner of Ross and Harwood, shown here shortly before its demise in 1930, lined the avenue for almost two miles from Akard to near lower Greenville. The area was developed by William and Andrew Ross, fruit growers and wine merchants from East Texas, with help from John M. Stemmons, of the family for whom the freeway was named.
Conway’s well-heeled Ross Avenue neighbors included Jules Schneider, a prominent wholesale grocer who also ran the streetcar company; renowned criminal defense attorney William L. Crawford, who had his own magnificent art gallery;
and cotton magnate Stephen I. Munger, who hosted the town’s most prestigious gatherings in the third-floor ballroom of his Colonial estate.
John S. Armstrong, founder of Highland Park, lived in an elegant Queen Anne-style home at the corner of Ross and Pearl. The estate of Col. Alfred Horatio Belo, founder of The Dallas Morning News, who lived across Harwood from Conway, survives as the home of the Dallas Bar Association.
Ross Avenue was invaded by car dealers and auto repair shops in the 1920s. The Conway mansion survived its last days by serving as home of the Dallas Academy of Music and School of Opera. On July 30, 1929, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. bought the property to build a “super service station.” Harvey Firestone removed the elegant mahogany mantle to install in his own Ohio estate.
SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Imagine the sound of 30 barbershop quartets all vocalizing at once to an orchestral accompaniment. If you can, The Vocal Majority with Strings may be for you.
Conceived of by popular radio host Ron Chapman, the newly issued CD and cassette feature the award-winning local male chorus known for its a cappella concerts in the barbershop tradition.
The Vocal Majority has won eight gold medals in international contests. This time, the 120 volunteer choristers are joined by 73 musicians playing strings, brass, and percussion in unique renditions of 13 love songs, including “Moonglow,” “Chances Are,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,”and the peculiarly appropriate “Smoke Ge’:s in Your Eyes.”
A Clinton Cyber Fantasy
President Clinton puts his roving eyes to novel uses in “Good Willie Hunting,” a new Internet game from NVision Design in Las Colinas. The game, modeled on an arcade favorite called Whack-a-Mole, has the president bustling around the White House lawn with a mallet, bopping “pests” from Monica Lewinsky to Paula Jones, Sam Donaldson, Newt Gingrich, and even the First Lady, as they repeatedly pop up from their burrows.
Smacking Socks the First Cat is a no-no, 1 but there’s a three-point bonus for connecting with a bucket of fried chicken. Kenneth Starr laughs in an eerie baritone each time he appears. Linda Tripp was given a voice like Godzilla, says NVision’s Mike Bielinski, because “she’s a big, scary creature who wreaks havoc.”
Lewinsky just sighs.
Bielinski reports that the interactive game was e-mailed to the White House, “but they kicked the file back because it was too large.”
Motley entrepreneurs colonize northwest Dallas.
There’s no other neighborhood quite like it.
From the Billi Bonze Bone Boutique to Heartsong Hypnotherapy, First Impression Limousine, and Water Gardens Galore, the unlikeliest assortment of small businesses anywhere in the city has sprung up willy-nilly along a three-quarter mile strip of West Lovers Lane, between Briarwood and Bluffview, near Love Field.
Transforming what threatened to become a strip of decaying downmarket bungalows are a score of new, sometimes quirky, enterprises, including Cristina’s Flowers, the new offices of lawyers Horsley & Stewart (near Richard Weiner, the podiatrist, and across the street from Lovers Lane Hair & Nails), as well as the Denise Moore Dance Studio, Riviera Pools, and Park Cities Antiques.
“It’s been a great location for us,” says Ed Lowe, an owner of Celebration Restaurant at 4503 W. Lovers, a pioneer business that opened in 1970.
Formerly scruffy West Lovers has burgeoned with new businesses since a 1989 change in the zoning law has lured small retail establishments to the district. A-mong the advantages for entrepreneurs and professionals are comparatively low rents and a provision in the rules that permits conversion of existing houses to businesses, where the owners may also live.
Jane E. Maxwell says she chose to open Cruise Holidays at 4911 W. Lovers in 1995 in part because she needed a location where she could watch her children while she worked. “I have a backyard and a full kitchen; they have room,” Maxwell says.
Of course, you can’t please everyone.
’it’s ridiculous,” says Frank Butler, the otherwise enthusiastic owner of Riviera Pools, of a zoning rule that prevents him from erecting a larger sign, Because of the rule, Butler complains, the strip is blighted by “cheesy piece-of-crap signs out front.”
Furor in Frognot